Sunday, February 4, 2007

Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, Part I

I meant to start working on this dish on Saturday to serve for Sunday dinner, but ended up running a bunch of errands and getting caught up on work all day Saturday, so I'm a day behind schedule. After a trip to the gym and other errands this morning, I came home and got started on the chive oil. Making this chive oil (as with many of Keller's oils) is a two-day process, so I'll start with the first day's events (chive oil prep and gnocchi) and then wrap-up with the execution of the rest of the dish in a separate post tomorrow evening when everything is done and put together (and hopefully edible).

Let's start with the chive oil. To make the chive oil, you cut up a package of fresh chives and pour a cup of canola oil:

Then, you wash the chives for two minutes in very hot water to remove the chlorophyll taste:

Next, you put half of the chives into the blender, with enough canola oil to cover them. Then, you puree the hell out of it on high speed for two minutes, at which point you add half of the remaining chives:

Then, you go another two minutes at which point you add the last bit of the chives and let it puree another two minutes. When you're done, it looks like this:

You transfer the puree to a separate container and let it cool for 24 hours. Then, you wipe up all the little green dots that have sprayed all over the white appliances nearby because you took the stopper out of the blender when you added the batches of chives, and the puree traveled a bit. You later find some of it in your hair and then realize that you actually went to the food co-op with chive puree in your hair and you wonder how you manage to do anything in life.

Next up in prep: the gnocchi. First, you bake 2 lbs. of russet potatoes (about 4 medium-sized potatoes):

Then, you scoop the potato out of the skin, mash it through a potato ricer (which is a hell of a lot harder than I thought it was going to be; apparently, I am a wuss), and place the mashies on a counter-top or cutting board. I'm using my butcher-block island. Create a well in the center, to which you add a half-cup of flour, 3 large egg yolks, salt, and another half-cup of flour:

Next, you have about 20-30 seconds to "chop" it all together using a dough scraper. This seems like it would be easy, but it was not. I'm already kind of a spaz, but doing this exacerbated my lack of coordination, and made me feel like a bit of a doofus. Nonetheless, I got it done. When you're finished, you roll the potato dough into a ball and lightly roll it in flour:

Next, you lightly flour a surface and break off pieces of dough and roll each of them into a snake:

Then, you cut the snake into 1/2" pieces, roll them into balls, and roll them over the tines of a fork to create the lines you commonly see on gnocchi:

Then, you do this many, many more times until you have made TWO HUNDRED FORTY of these little f-ers. Um, yeah. I didn't read that part of the recipe before I got started, and when I saw the notation "This makes 20 dozen gnocchi" I had to stop and do the math. Oy.

Next, you place the gnocchi (in batches, of course; not all 240 at once) in a pot of boiling water:

Then, when they start to rise to the top, you scoop them out and submerge them in a bowl of ice water:

After sitting in the ice-water bath for two minutes, you remove them and let them drain on a kitchen towel:

Then, you place them on a parchment-covered tray and refrigerate/freeze them (depending upon what you need to do with them).

So, that's Sunday afternoon/evening prep, and although it seems like a lot of work, it really wasn't all that hard. It just required having everything set up ahead of time and placed around the kitchen in a certain order so I could be most efficient. I was happy to have it done by the time the Superbowl started -- not because I care about the game (because neither the Giants nor the Eagles were playing) but because, hello - PRINCE! Who doesn't love a live version of "Purple Rain" with a marching band? He is so awesome. I >heart< him in a very dirty, dirty way... but don't tell anybody. Seriously. It's our secret.

Up next: Warm Fruitwood-Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi and Balsamic Glaze, Part II
(uh-oh; it involves squeeze bottles and artistic talent. I'm screwed.)

Brands Used:
Chives and potatoes from Safeway
Canola oil and all-purpose flour; 365 brand from Whole Foods
Eggs from the Takoma Park Co-op
OXO potato ricer
Hamilton Beach blender
All-Clad saucepan
Joyce Chen skimmer

Music to Cook By: The Police -- Synchronicity; because HELLO (!) The Police are reuniting this summer after 30 years and I simply cannot stand it! Although, I will confess that during the gnocchi rolling, boiling, cooling and storing, I had to turn off the music so I could focus. Now I understand why Thomas Keller keeps a silent kitchen. It does help, even on the easy stuff.


Anonymous said...

Your photos are gorgeous this time around -- are you using a new lens? Those egg yolks are fantastic!

Anonymous said...

waitaminute... you made your own gnocchi? holy shit, girl... i totally woulda just bought the frozen stuff at the store and used that instead and told everyone I made it myself. good on ya. can't wait to see tomorrow night's post. i love salmon, and anything that requires oil and glaze to be drizzled - you'll do fine. glad you're doing this blog - it's fun to see this fancy-dancy stuff done in real life.

pdxblogmommy said...

How many times during the gnocchi process did you think to yourself "that one looks like a three fingered, one armed, blind person did it."?

I think my first batch would have been nearly perfect and then I would have wound into the "down home" kind. You know...the ones only a mother could love.